What A Girl Wants: Nonfiction!

© Loree Griffin Burns

Colleen Mondor has put up a new post in her “What A Girl Wants” series, and it is a Must Read. The question this month is simple: what books of nonfiction do you wish your seventeen-year-old self could have read? There are some new women nonfiction writers on the panel (Tanya Lee Stone! Pamela S. Turner!) and you should check out what they and the other panelists have to say on the topic. Have a pad and pencil handy.

(And when you do, you’ll know why I have decorated this post with that gnarly beetle up there.)


What A Girl Wants: Sporty Books

EHS Field Hockey, circa 1987

We’re talking books for girls again over at Chasing Ray this month. What books can you think of about famous female athletes in history? Do we honor them on the same level as male athletes? And what about game playing girls in Middle Grade & Young Adult novels? Can you think of some great ones and do familiar teen girl tropes (like mean girls and romance) play into those novels? In other words, is a book about boys playing ball crafted the same as one about girls playing ball? Is the sport enough when selling a book about girl athletes?

Check out what the panel had to say … and tell us what YOU think.


What A Girl Wants: Loree Is Missing Edition

No, I did not skip out on the conversation because it had to do with sex. I skipped out on the conversation so I could chase butterflies in Costa Rica. Honest. The panel went on without me, though, and shared their thoughts on books, sex, girls, and double standards. Check out the discussion at Chasing Ray.

Not sure what I am talking about? Read this introduction to the What A Girl Wants discussion series.

Passionate about girls and books? Check out the entire What A Girl Wants archive.

Looking for Costa Rica stories and pictures? Er, sorry. Not ready yet. Come back on Friday!?


What A Girl Wants: Redwood Books

Colleen Mondor has asked all of the panelists for her ‘What A Girl Wants’ series to recommend a gift book or two for teenaged girls. I went with non-fiction (of course) and a theme (redwood trees) and, I suppose, on the assumption that the girl in question has an interest in science and nature. You can read this week’s list of holiday picks (including the five books pictured above) here, and you can read last week’s list here.


Edited to Add: And here is the final What A Girl Wants list of recommended titles, published just today at Chasing Ray. Enjoy again!


Mean Girls

Today at Chasing Ray, Colleen Mondor and the ‘What A Girl Wants’ panelists discuss mean girls in youth literature and in the world. Why are they so damned popular, anyway? The WAGW women, as usual, provide much to ponder in their thoughtful responses. Please check it out!

(Notice I did not participate in the discussion this month. See? It is not just my own blog that I am neglecting. It is everything outside the citizen science book. Seriously. But the deadline is creeping closer, the manuscript is nearly finished, and I hope to be back here more regularly soon.)


What A Girl Wants: Books of Knowledge

© Kelley Connors

I know, I know…. I am supposed to be away from my computer all month. But the truth is that I am working a teeny bit, in between summer adventures, and part of that work this week is participating in another ‘What A Girl Wants’ discussion over at Colleen Mondor’s Chasing Ray blog. This week we’re discussing non-fiction, and I’m officially inviting ALL of you to join the discussion. So, if you are so inclined, head on over, hear what the WAGW panel has to say about nonfiction for teen girls, and let us know what you think about the topic. What great YA nonfiction have you read lately? What inspirational women* would you like to read about? Who and what did you read about when you were a teen? Come on over and have your say.

*Eleanor Roosevelt, whose statue from the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial in Washington DC is pictured above, inspires me constantly. I re-read parts of Russell Freedman’s ELEANOR ROOSEVELT: A LIFE OF DISCOVERY while writing up my WAGW response, and I was inspired all over again. Amazing woman, amazing biography.

** I submitted my WAGW response very late, so if you’ve already visited the discussion (ahem, Jeannine), then consider a second trip!


What A Girl Wants: Books She Can Relate To

Colleen Mondor at Chasing Ray has inspired another interesting discussion about teen girls and reading. This time, Colleen asked us panelists to discuss how important it is (or isn’t) for writers to identify with their protagonists. Specifically, she asked:


Do you think writers and publishers address this identity issue strongly enough and in a balanced manner in current teen fiction?

Can authors write characters of different race/ethnicity or sexual preference from their own?

Beyond that, what special responsibility, if any, do authors of teen fiction have to represent as broad a swath of individuals as possible?

You can read the thoughtful responses of Colleen’s WAGW Panel here.

I tackled the question from a non-fiction point of view, of course, and only the issue of identifying with my subject as an author. I also linked over to a similar discussion that was started at the I.N.K. (Interesting Nonfiction for Kids) blog. If you feel strongly on these topics, do stop by and join in the discussions.

In the meanwhile, I’m rubbing my hands together in anticipation of reading three new titles in Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s Scientists in the Field series. Together these books share the work of five scientists, among them a female microbiologist/spelunker and an African American biologist:


What A Girl Wants: Girl Detectives

A new installment of Colleen Mondor’s What a Girl Wants discussion series went live today at Chasing Ray, and its all about the decline of the girl detective novel: does it hurt girls not to have the teen girl detective in the 21st century? what does it say about us that she is largely gone? You can–and should!–read the entire post here. I’ll paste my thoughts below; I hope they’ll entice you to wander over and join the discussion.

I adored Nancy as a kid. It wasn’t the mysteries so much as the undeniable fact that she was different. She wasn’t interested in the sorts of things that most teenaged girls were interested in: boys and how to attract them. No, Nancy was more interested in uncovering the truth, most especially when there were people trying to hide it. Looking back, Nancy’s appeal for me is all wrapped up in this idea that she was different, that she knew it, and that she didn’t worry about it. Because I was different, and I knew it … and I worried about it endlessly.

I guess what I am saying is that I don’t think today’s girls need a girl detective so much as they need a girl—any girl—who is strong and capable (e.g. different!) and who gets on with life anyway. And there are female protagonists who fit this bill; they just don’t happen to be detectives.

As a writer whose passion is science and nature, I’d be remiss if I didn’t at least point out that one incarnation of the girl detective in our age is the female scientist. And although there are lots of nonfiction books available for teen girls about women who grew up to be scientists, I can’t think of many contemporary novels with scientifically-bent heroines: Meg Murry (A WRINKLE IN TIME), Dewey Kerrigan (THE GREEN GLASS SEA), Hermione Granger (HARRY POTTER series) … who else?